Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill announced on Monday that 19-year-old rookie forward Dylan Larkin has made the team’s opening night lineup.
“We just felt, I specifically really felt, he makes us better,” Blashill said. “And to an exponential amount that we felt it was important he started on the team. We just felt he has earned the spot.”
Larkin, Detroit’s first pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft at 15th overall, signed with the Red Wings after just one year at the University of Michigan. He appeared in six playoff games last spring for the Grand Rapids Griffins, scoring three goals and adding two assists. In five exhibition games with the Wings he scored three goals and one assist.
In Monday’s practice, Larkin skated on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader. Blashill cautioned that lines are subject to change before Friday’s opener.
With Larkin’s spot in Detroit solidified, veteran Daniel Cleary would appear to be the odd-man out. However, Cleary was not placed on waivers on Monday, instead defenseman Jakub Kindl was placed on short-term injured reserve, as the Red Wings attempt to get as close to the salary cap as possible before placing Pavel Datsyuk on long-term IR, to maximize its benefits. Teams must set their cap-compliant season-opening rosters by Tuesday at 5:00 PM but can make lineup changes after that point.
Larkin’s spot on the Detroit roster is not secured long-term, as both Datsyuk and Darren Helm will need a spot when they return from injury.
Andy Miele, Mitch Callahan, and Brian Lashoff all cleared waivers on Monday.